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Title: The use and function of mystery within contemporary systematic theology, with special reference to the doctrine of providence in Karl Barth and Maurice Wiles
Author: Griffin, Nicholas Philip
ISNI:       0000 0004 8500 1263
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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The contention of this thesis is that God is fundamentally mysterious and that this is displayed clearly through the doctrine of providence. The implication of this thesis is that mystery is an inescapable feature of Christian theology. This will be demonstrated through the following sections. Firstly, by contrasting three contemporary attempts to survey mystery, I will suggest a basic division between 'comprehensible' and 'inscrutable' mysteries. Inscrutable mysteries (subdivided into 'ontological and 'epistemological') will form the primary type of mystery to be explored throughout the research. Secondly, applying the refined sense of mystery, I will construct a dialogue between Karl Barth and Maurice Wiles to explore their different uses of mystery within their respective doctrines of providence. Both theologians have written extensively about providence and use 'mystery' throughout their work. I have selected providence as a doctrinal focus because it is one of the pre-eminent places in theology, in which we might expect God to be most accessible and yet we find the clouds of unknowing most impenetrable. Within and outside of their formulations of providence, both Barth and Wiles frequently employ mystery in differing and interesting ways and this dialogue will illustrate their differing theological backgrounds and the possibilities for constructive uses of mystery in theology. Building on the earlier sections the final chapter makes constructive formal and substantive proposals. The methodological portion advances mystery as neither 'another starting point' or the disappointing end to a failed theology but a basic mode and style of theological construction. The substantive portion proposes the use of mystery as a defence against idolatry with implications for contextual theologies. This research will be within systematic theology and methods will include critical theological and philosophical analysis. I believe that this thesis makes three distinctive and original contributions to theological knowledge. Firstly, there have been very few attempts to 'map' types of mystery in this extensive way and this thesis provides stable terminology for the theological task. Secondly, I know of no constructed dialogue between Barth and Wiles.
Supervisor: Davies, Oliver Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available